Dialogue with the Container

Woodstock, Virginia, August 16, 1999


Going into a sustained and intensive reflection on issues of space-time seems to open some new doors to conceptualization, ... or rather old doors which have been closed for some time, as Emile's following anecdote reveals. It 'feels' like part of a continuing move to revitalize the relationship with 'the container' which our euclidian space convention and detached-thing based language, have distanced us from.

It began with the 'sweet sorrow' feeling of taking one's leave from children and grandchildren and their friends, ... a feeling intensified by the approaching turn of the millenium, and by the impression that the container of community, which youth must navigate, is becoming more strange and less harmonic as time goes by. Emile had been listening to the deep, ontogenetic flows woven into 'Let's Keep it Simple' and 'Powaqqatsi Manifesto', and this perhaps helped to stir the latencies so as to open up the following 'dialogue' with the container;

I heard a sound and my eyes opened, and for a moment I didn't know where I was. With the car seat in reclined position, my view was of the stars embedded in a light gray-blue sheath which enveloped me and everything around me including the earth. It was the early light of the 'rising' dawn and I soon remembered I was parked in a 'rest area' on Interstate 30 somewhere near Nashville. The 'feel' of this star-gazing took me by surprise as it seemed as if the stars were gazing at me, rather than vice versa. I heard them say, .. 'come on, ask me, ... ask me', ... as if they detected my normal fear of digging too deeply into these questions of 'who am I' and 'where am I', .. a fear or 'sensitivity'?, ... yes, the latter sounds a bit better, .... a sensitivity which usually has me paying my due respects to the euclidian geometry model which, by abstract sleight of mind, quickly 'closes down' the questioning, and liberates my thoughts that they might move on to other things.

But this time, Annie Lennox's voice from one of the tracks of her 'Medusa' CD came to me, ... '.. I was feeling kind of seasick, ... but the crowd called out for more.' My thoughts exactly, ... how could I leave this nagging question of space-time geometry alone when I was already in this deep? ... Sure, it was easy to handle it 'offline' in terms of mathematical principles but here I was right now 'looking right into it', and it was powerful stuff. It begged me to 'let go' and embrace it, .. .and the thought of letting myself 'go into it' brought into mind thoughts of 'decompression' and 'compression', ... of a too quick decompression of an astronaut in the near zero-pressure or 'vacuum' of outer space, ... the flesh blown up like pink popcorn enveloped in a cloud of pink steamy mist from boiling blood venting through the pores. My thoughts went also to the other extreme, to a story I had read as a child, a fiction about deep sea diving where the diver was going to untold depths when his old fashioned compressed air suit sprung a leak in the bottom of a legging, and his intercom with his mates up on the diving boat went silent. When they pulled him up and back up on deck, they were shocked when they saw that the body of the suit was empty, ... then when they turned over the big brass helmet so that they could see into the glass face-plate, they saw that it was filled with a densely packed peanutbutter and jam like substance with two large and flattened eyeballs squeezing against the glass, seemingly articulating some important and nasty recognition about the goings on.

The diver thing made up my mind. I looked back up at the stars and said, ... I don't believe in intercourse right away, but lets agree to explore each other a bit more deeply, shall we?

In the back of my mind were a thousand instances of the refusal of science to accept this intimate relationship between us, the contents, .. and our own container, our still connected historical 'mother', ... an intimate relationship that quantum physics and a horrendous pile of empirical data would suggest that we were ignoring with impunity to our own dysfunctional detriment, .... by diagnosing mental 'illness' out of the context of the co-evolutionary relationship with the container, ... by the west perceiving the anger and aggression from the third world, and from the indigenous peoples, as if it were all 'spontaneous in-situ' stuff, born from 'tragically maladjusted people', and out of the context of any 'coevolutionary' inductance between the westernized world and its global container.

Ok, I thought, you have a point, ... it is 'spooky' to ask oneself 'where, or who am I' when you look up to the star-filled sky and realize that you don't believe in the standard 'euclidian space' answer any more, ... that the notion that space is just a void which goes out to infinity is just some bullshit the Greeks made up for convenience. ... Now, it gets kind of scary, ... what I might seen when I am looking up into the big momma of containers, ... and it seems to be bursting to try to tell me something, ... but to let it tell me something is to admit that it has a sort of 'consciousness' of its own which is entangled with mine, ... and that forebodes a wrestling under the sheets of rationality that I have never fully and directly engaged in before, ... not 'in-line' in immersed mode, at least. So I decided I would forego continuing to 'look it in the eye', and instead would think about it as I continued my drive up to Montreal and stay alert to any 'clues' which came my way, ...

Emile: ' .. You idiot!', ... if you're going to pull out right in front of me, you can at least adjust your speed to harmonize a bit with mine, instead of being consistent with your own trajectory, and having me shorten the back of your car by a couple of feet. What the hell are you thinking about?'

Zeus: I believe I know what he's thinking, ... it's 'Cogito ergo sum'.

Emile: Right on, Zeus, ... the guy's action is clearly Cartesian, at least. But you'd think he'd key in to the four letter word in front of this roadway we're on, .. 'f', 'r', 'e', 'e', ... 'free' which stands for fucking 'freeway', .. and not for the relationship between his mind and his matter.

Zeus: .. apparently he hasn't heard about 'curved space' and 'reciprocal disposition', ... and I'll bet he's not a pool player, or else he'd realize that for every action we make, we change the reciprocal disposition of all of the other contents in the container.

Emile: Zeus, ... could even be he's a Nobel Lobotomate, or whatever.

Zeus: Come on, Emile, ... I think you're taking this thing too seriously.

Emile: I know you're right Zeus, but I am damned frustrated that this euclidian brain draw continues to effect the scientific community and the structures it spawns, and that it is effecting everyone, particularly the kids.

Zeus: Well, if Descartes junior here had to do a remedial lesson in space-time geometry, to pay for his sins behind the wheel, ... what kind of instruction would put him through.

Emile: I wouldn't put him through any, ... there's no way to teach or 'share' this stuff by structured lessons. I would instead go out and find someone with a need to know and try to add to his knowledge on the topic,... and therefore to compensate the community as a whole for its surfeit of Cartesian devoutees.

Zeus: And, what would kind of instruction would you give your volunteer?

Emile: First, I'd ask him to drive on a flat plane with a circular freeway on it, big enough to hold a hundred or so cars and trucks with enough space to leave some large gaps between the clusters of cars etc. Then let him do his stuff, ... when he cuts people off and they put their brakes on, ... that pulse will propagate in the circle and he will soon run into it in front of himself as he moves forward, breaking his thought that he has left it behind him as is implied in the 'homocentric' and euclidian view of things. We will have an aboriginal driving instructor, and when he runs into his own pulse of dissonance and has to jam on his breaks, the instructor will read an appropriate quote to stick in his mind, such as, ... 'man did not weave the web of life, ... he is merely a strand on it', .. and when you spit on others, you spit on yourself.

Zeus: I thought you were a 'curved-space' volumetric kind of guy, ... what's this with the flatspace? .... although I admit the 'geometry lesson' is rather appealing.

Emile: That was just the beginning of the first lesson. The next part is that he has to simulate what motion 'he' would be going through if we invoked relativity and the circular road on the flat plane were moving instead of him. Clearly, he would be rotating about an axis down through the center of his head and bisecting him according to his bilateral symmetry, ... well, you get the picture.

Zeus: .. .I do indeed, and if gave him a hammer to put in one of his hands, and a fixed gong beside him, he would look just like one of the mechanical clocks in the Piazzo San Marco in Venice.

Emile: Good one, Zeus. And in the next lesson, we'd allow him to experience the fact that it wasn't really a flat plane that we were starting him out on, but the surface of a large featureless sphere and the road markings were on a circular 'rubber band' that we'd gradually pull down and over the sphere until they ran around the diameter of it.

Zeus: Wow, ... so 'his' motion in going around this loop, as we moved down, would go through phases looking something like a combination of an olympic diver doing a twist and a shoulder roll.

Emile: Yes, until he got to the point where the roadway ran around a full diameter and then his motion, as he went around, would lose its bilateral spin aspect and shift to looking like someone doing a forward roll. It's important to note that he does not see, in one view, the circling highway traffic, as he does in the first case, because, in the case of riding on the surface of the sphere, he himself is 'riding the circle', and he just sees a continual new experience coming at him all the time.

Zeus: Like Janis Joplin's 'tomorrow never happens', ... it's all the same day, view of space-time, ... he sees new things continually coming up over his horizon.

Emile: Yes, ... and also like Kepler's point that you only 'see the clock ticking' in voyeur mode, ... as when you watch mercury and venus circling the sun and going back and forth like a pendulum between the extrema of their orbits. You can't see that when you watch mars or jupiter, because you are 'immersed' in their spheres of revolution, ... and you just see them as if in 'real life' mode coming at you from space and going over your head and then reappearing again.

But imagine Zeus, in the situation that our highway now wraps around this sphere which has no markings, what will happen to the traffic flow when our modern-day Descartes forces me to screech on the brakes?

Zeus: It will be a screech which will be felt around the world, ... perhaps softened or even hardened, depending on the other drivers, and then our Descartes will drive right into it as if he had been the guy behind himself. It's a self-referential kind of system.

Emile: Exactly, ... but there's more than this. Imagine if you had some of your little childhood friends out there on the magnetic bumping cars, as in the days of youth, ... everyone would be playing their little tricks and learning to harmonize, ... and all of this would be going around the sphere on our highway and continually adding together in this 'self-referential' way, right? Because the sphere has no markings (its just a way of looking at space), and because of relativity, after a while, you're just operating on the top of these mixed surges, and you can't even tell your own contribution any more because you don't know what the base case is, ... so you just have to 'go with the flow' and 'coevolve' with what's there.

Zeus: So Descarte's faux pas in keying to a fixed reference, .... himself, ... and making others brake is not distinguishable any more?

Emile: Right, ... it gets folded in with everything else, just as a shot in pool does, ... it conditions the other balls in a continually enfolding way.

Zeus: And is Descartes now supposed to feel what its like to do forward rolls into the future, as compared with being part of the Piazza San Marco chronometric gong show?

Emile: He's supposed to start thinking about space-time geometries and time and acceleration etc. so that he can begin to see the role they can play in his thinking about himself and his container, ... his coevolutional 'story', if you will. For example, if he were to participate in one of those inverse situations where you ride a motorcycle around the inside of a big barrel, this would flex different space-time conceptualizing 'muscles'. We could actually enlarge such a barrel to the size of a football field if the motorcycles were going about 150 mile an hour, so that we could to simulate the highway traffic situation inside of a cylinder. This would start to correspond to 'compressional acceleration' rather than the 'decompressional acceleration' going around the outside of the sphere.

Zeus: I think I'll pass on the barrel thing, myself, Emile,... my stomach won't stand for too much these days. ... So what's the next step in the space-time experiencing sessions.

Emile: Well, before we move past the spherical highway phase, he needs to experience a number of things. As he drives continuously into tomorrow, ... into the rising sun, ... his dissonant Cartesian moves will start coming towards him, ... just as his yesterday's exhaust is blowing in his face in real life. And that if he is 'harmonious' in his moves, this fresh wind of harmony will come blowing into his face as he moves into the future. Not only this, but all the moves that he and others make are enfolding together and are what he will experience coming towards him. The relationship between the past and the future and not a straight line as in Euclidian space, as they are always portrayed in our culture, instead, the past and future keep enfolding in an inclusionary way.

Zeus: So, when the 'breeze blows in his face' so to speak, he will be 'eating the dust' of his ancestors?

Emile: He will indeed, ... but how he participates and interprets this experience will determine whether he keeps the game in play or not.

Anyhow,... the next test takes us back to the compression, decompression example of the astronaut and diver and the geometry of 'inner' and 'outer'. We have spoken about 'flow' on a flat plane, ... 'flow' on the surface of a sphere, ... and now we need to speak about 'flow' within spherical space, ... in the manner of plate tectonics where things upwell and subduct at the same time. One can get a feel for this in terms of our expressions about 'blood pressure' and 'letting off steam' and so on. When stuff comes out of the interior, as in volcanism, it spurts out of cracks and all that, as in the mid-atlantic ridge and the volcanic islands of Iceland, Surtsey and nearby. And when stuff goes down in again, it is pushed down and in, as along the coast of California where the pacific plate is diving down under the North American plate and being pushed down by its own weight plus the weight of the North American plate.

Zeus: Emile, ... the traffic example is starting to get tough for this inner-outer case.

Emile: Yes, we are getting up in dimensionality and all the simple pictures are being left behind, and we are speaking of very subtle but important effects, as one encounters in altitude sickness, for example. As Einstein pointed out, we need to visualize this by bringing into connection both real and imaginery experiences. But just as you were 'driving' the flow in the plane and sphere situation, ... just imagine that you are somehow driving little tiny cars constituting this plate tectonic flow and that other people were too, and that the flows had to be 'balanced' somehow. For example, when you are hungry (inner equilibrium), you send out, in informational terms, a few food trucks to determine the location of food and bring it back. And when other people are hungry they do the same. Some traffic coordination is needed here, right? And even if you are anxious, you need to have some decorum if the progagating results coming back from the container are to be harmonious.

Zeus: I see what you are saying,... it's Laborit's model of satisfying internal and external equilibria, ... the external equilibria is the equivalent of the self-referential traffic problem but now its in the form of 'internal pressures' and 'external pressures' and trying to balance all that harmoniously.

Emile: Correct, ... the same self-referentiality applies but now were balancing our 'internal pressures' with the 'external pressures' which bear on us, ... but these things do the same as in our spherical highway and they come back at ourselves and continue to meld with those of others. The sensing of how to make this whole thing proceed hamoniously is much aided by tuning in to the patterns contributed by the ancestors. It's kind of like continuing on with an embroidery started by others.

Zeus: ... but if we revert to a 'rules' base, we totally nullify our tuning in to prior evolved patterns and the harmonizing with these patterns which is suggested by the non-euclidian, relativistic models.

Emile: That's right, putting rules in the primacy removes us from this domain of consciousness and 'intuition' and put us back in 'lobotomy-land' where we de-tune from such stuff.

Zeus: So why do we continue to bury ourselves in rules? On the radio today, when we were in Tennessee, it said they passed a new law that if you're cat was found wandering off your property, you would be given a $20 fine. The 'tyranny of the majority' effects seem to be getting a bit ridiculous. How do we do this?

Emile: Well, let's say that at a particular interchange on our highway, let's call it the 'Goedel Avenue' interchange, there are a lot of 'Descartes' pulling into the freeway traffic without thinking flow and harmony, and causing a lot of accidents. What do you think will happen?

Zeus: They'd probably put in traffic lights!

Emile: Yes, it's the 'rational' thing to do, and it will remove the problem of having to 'tune' into the harmonies,... that is, it will remove the necessity to exercise our consciousness and our appreciation of others and others before us. Our new 'rules' obviate the need to remember, understand, embrace and evolve the wisdom of our ancestors and our own past experience.

Zeus: Worse than that, ... it seems that rationality fails to consider self-reference and so infuses dissonance into the system, ... and the solution for dissonance in our culture is, ... what else?, ... rational rule structures, a 'vicious cycle' indeed.

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